May 19, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With joyous hearts, we gather this weekend to celebrate the magnificent feast of Pentecost, marking the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the united Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke vividly describes this transformative moment when a powerful wind filled the upper room and tongues of fire settled upon each disciple. Importantly, he recounts how the Apostles, infused with the Holy Spirit, fearlessly proclaimed the Good News, enabling people from diverse nations to understand the message in their own languages.

Pentecost is a celebration of both the Holy Spirit’s outpouring and the unity this divine gift fosters among us. The Spirit bridges the gaps between diverse backgrounds, languages, and cultures, drawing all closer to the resurrected Christ. Through this unity, we encounter God’s boundless power, overcoming the divisions that separate us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t enforce conformity that erases diversity; instead, it enriches and preserves the unique beauty and individuality of each creation, much like sacred dew nourishing the varied flora of a garden.

This profound understanding of Pentecost compels us to strive for an inclusive society that treasures diversity as a splendid gift from the Creator’s Spirit. As members of the Catholic Church—rooted in tradition yet enriched by a tapestry of cultures and languages—we have a unique opportunity to bear witness to love, a universal language that everyone understands.

Regrettably, our society often suffers from pride, prejudice, and hatred, which lead to exclusion, alienation, and even violence. In response, we, as Christians, choose love. Love that rebuilds the human family, restores God’s intended unity and peace, and bridges the gaps caused by racism, xenophobia, and other prejudices.

For 184 years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria has been a spiritual sanctuary for countless immigrants, refugees, and families from abroad. This faith community, nurtured by diverse individuals, has bequeathed to us a rich Catholic heritage that blesses us today. While worshiping and living as a diverse community presents challenges, we are thankful to the Holy Spirit for the universal language of love—an enduring symbol of unity within our parish.

As we invoke “Veni Creator Spiritus,” the Church fervently prays, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth!” Let us pray that our hearts, too, are ignited with a profound love for all, including those who speak different tongues.

May the blessings of Pentecost be upon each one of you.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham